Friday, November 17, 2017

The Only 5 Wines You Need for Thanksgiving, According to Chef Duskie Estes

If you’re a bacon lover, then you probably know Duskie Estes as the Princess du Porc – her half of the title when she and  husband John Stewart won Cochon 555 at Food & Wine Classic in Aspen. Or if you live in Sonoma’s wine country, you may have visited Zazu Kitchen + Farm, the couple’s Sebastopol restaurant and tasted their artisan Black Pig Bacon from pigs they raise.

Though she cooks farm-to-table with classic roots, Estes has a playful and quirky style that comes out in everything she does, whether in her appearances on Food Network Shows (like Next Iron Chef or Guy’s Grocery Games, airing Nov. 19), or entertaining for holidays.

“Our Thanksgiving is kind of weird. We do bacon, lettuce, turkey and avocado (BLAT) sandwiches on Thanksgiving for our family,” says Estes, who has two daughters. “We have like 20 bags of chips that we say no to most of the year and have a chip party with our BLATS. ” The grownups wash down their sandwiches with sparkling wine or German Riesling.

The real Thanksgiving dinner happens the day before the holiday, so restaurant staff can relax with their families. Estes, a wine aficionado, shares her five go-to styles of wine and varietals for pairing with a traditional – or slightly offbeat -- turkey dinner.

Bubbles – “Bubbles work with everything from oysters to barbecue. They have such great acid and they make everyone happy all the time. I don’t know a food that I don’t think bubbles go with,” she says.

Rosé  - “I would have rosé with the turkey myself,” says Estes. “But it depends on the gravy. We do a gravy that’s more orange juice and lemon juice, so it’s tangier rather than heavy.”  She also finds that the tart and astringent flavors of cranberries, found in a cranberry-apple chutney, are delicious with dry rosé.

Rhône white - Rhône whites (think a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier) are often a chef favorite when it comes to food pairing.  “The wines tend to have some weight, less acid and a little more body, and floral notes,” says Estes.
That combo of characteristics makes Rhône whites perfect with all your side dishes, from Brussels sprouts with bacon or yams to pureed parsnips or mashed potatoes. Estes can’t wait to match it with her winter white cauliflower soup with apple chips and curry oil or the turkey brined in maple, ginger, allspice and black pepper.

Pinot Noir - “It has such a broad range it would go great with the earthy vegetables, the bird, yams and anything with mushrooms,” says Estes. Pinot is also a classic pairing with her favorite group – pork – as in this Bovolo Bacon Macaroni and Cheese she created for Food Network Challenge. Since her restaurant is in the Russian River, she’s fond of that earthy yet fruit-forward style.  

Zinfandel – The bold berry flavors, spice notes and smooth tannins in Zinfandel, a quintessentially American wine, make it a great match for dark meat turkey, pork roast and foods with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, says Estes. And it’s more creative than just pulling out a big Cabernet Sauvignon. She loves all Zin, but is especially fond of Zinfandels from Sonoma’s Dry Creek and Russian River, which are considered some of the best in the world. “Those areas could use the support right now [post wildfires] and they make rocking Zin!” she says.